Tuesday, August 22, 2023

  No 16 "God, Please Take the Witness Stand" 

God On Trial (Part 1 of 2)
The Great Controversy began in heaven between a disgruntled angel and God. That angel’s dissatisfaction led to open rebellion and war. That angel―Lucifer―lost the contest and was made to leave heaven. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven (Rev 12:7,8). 

God permitted the dragon―Lucifer―Satan to come to planet earth. There must have been reasons why God thus permitted. Likewise, there must have been reasons why God so permitted Satan to afflict Job as disastrously as he did. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord (Job 1:12). Satan was not able to accomplish his objectives with Job, on the first attempt; so Satan returned to heaven to ask permission from God to try again. The issues must have been serious because God permitted Satan to have a second round on Job. And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life (Job 2:4-6).

What were these issues? Why did God have it in His best interests to permit Satan to do what he did to Job? And, by extension, why does God permit Satan to do what he does to us in our lives today? Let’s begin to define the issues by looking at the beginning of the Great War.

For some undefined period of time from the creation of all things, all was in harmony and peace in heaven. There were no disgruntled angels. It all began with a single angel who began to change his views about God. With changed views came changed attitudes. With changed attitudes came changed relationships. This much is given in the Bible: 12 Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee (Ezekiel 28:12-15).

From these Scriptures pertaining to Lucifer, we conclude:
1) He was wise and perfect (verses 12 and 15)
2) He was a created being (verses 13 and 15)
3) He was the highest-ranking angel or anointed cherub that covered (verse 14)
4) He was at the top of God’s government or upon God’s holy mountain (verse 14)
5) He was perfect before the Law of God or walked amid the stones of fire (verse 14)
6) He was perfect from the day he was created till iniquity was found in him (verse 15)

Our understanding broadens when we add Isaiah’s testimony regarding Lucifer: 12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit (Isaiah 14:12-15).

We can add these thoughts to his profile:
1) He fell from heaven to earth (verse 12)
2) He weakened the nations or ruined the peoples of earth (verse 12)
3) His motives included wanting a throne for himself (verse 13)
4) His motives included wanting to be like God or worshipped as God (verse 14)
5) He will be sent to hell for his rebellion (verse 15)

Add to the testimony given by Ezekiel and Isaiah, the words of Jesus:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:44).
1) The devil tries to get us to do what he did so that we can suffer his fate with him
2) The devil does not like truth and broke away from truth
3) The devil is a liar―he created the art and science of lying
4) The devil was a murderer from the beginning

Lucifer in heaven―Satan on earth―attempted to murder the reputation of God. (He knew he would never be able to hurt God directly for God is life.) But to murder one’s reputation may nearly be equal to murdering that person anyway. In his quest to become “like God” Satan depended upon the lies he created about God. Satan’s goal was to cause all created beings (in heaven and on earth) to dislike God and, thus, come to accept him as god. And has Satan not done well in accomplishing his goal?
1) Most of the world does not even know Who God is
2) Most of the world wants to continue the rebellion Satan started
3) Most of the world does not like the God they do know

While other insights (beside Ezekiel, Isaiah and Jesus) are given here and there throughout Scripture, the most extensive treatment of the issues is given in the Book of Job. There we see―
1) that Satan seeks to cast God in a bad light causing beings to reject Him
2) that Satan accomplished this task through his craft of lying
3) that Satan will murder whomever he can

Many people reading Job harbor ill feelings toward God for what He permitted Satan to do to the man Job (and us by extension). Why did God allow incriminating evidence (generated by a shallow reading of Job) to be written and added to our Bible? Wouldn’t it have been to His advantage to “leave it out” or “act like it never happened?” 

God has nothing to hide. All His works are a REVELATION―not a deception. And no created being knows the Scriptures better―every dotting of an “i” and the crossing of a “t”―than Satan. And relying upon his craft as a liar, Satan will throw bad light upon a text here and an errant interpretation upon a verse there, if it might accomplish his overall purpose of confusion. Confusion just may cause a person to ultimately make the decision to accept the same fate as declared upon Satan. In that case, Satan wins. 

But the Word of God is not confusing. The truth of the Plan of Salvation comes through even to a child reading the Bible. Even an illiterate person can grab the truths of the Scripture (when the words are read to him) if wrong interpretations have not been placed upon the words being read to him. And if there were no words given other than the life and teachings of Jesus, the Plan of Salvation could still be seen by all. Jesus is the clearest picture of the love of God spelled out as a Word to be read.

The Terms of the Controversy
It was the character of God which sets the terms of the controversy with Satan.
1) God's character is truthHe cannot lie
2) God's character is loveHe will always act in a loving capacity to all His created
    beings. This includes Satan
3) God's character is lifeHe offers life to all

Satan's character is revealed in the controversy:
1) Satan created lying, and does so skillfully
2) Satan could care less about love―all he wants is blind obedience
3) Satan only wants our eternal death

Every other characteristic and quality of God (just, trustworthy, patient, kind, honest, longsuffering, etc.) has its counterpart in a hateful, mean and cruel Satan. Satan doesn’t care about his own reputation. God does care about His.

This is one reason why the Controversy has continued these long 6000 years or so. Every question must be answered. Every issue must be resolved. God has been working out these issues since the beginning of this world. The Bible assures us that God will triumph. But He must win the war in a manner that demonstrates His righteousness―in a manner that is consistent with His character. He must win in a manner that settles all the issues involved, and that prevents another rebellion in the future. The Bible assures us that He will not (and we will not) have to go through this again. Affliction shall not rise up the second time (Nahum 1:9). To make the universe secure through all eternity, all issues must be settled now. The plan of salvation involves issues larger than we usually consider.

This is How the Controversy Ends
God permitted Satan to test his theories. After Satan has done all he can do to deceive the universe (and when he can do no more), there is a mighty voice in heaven crying, “It is done!”
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Rev 21:6-8). And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments (Rev 19:1,2). This is how the conflict ends! God triumphs!

Every Knee Shall Bow and Every Tongue Shall Confess
Three times the Bible assures that a time will come when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every being ever created. You and me. And this includes Satan and his angels.

I have sworn by myself,
the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return,
That unto me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear (Isa 45:23).

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord,
every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God (Rom 14:23).

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10,11).

The Philippians account is that these confessions will be to the glory of God. The Great Controversy is over. God did triumph! The questions have been answered and all the issues resolved― to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:11). The universe is secure. God has shown Himself to be loving, trustworthy, fair, honest, pure, and holy toward all beings. Satan has shown himself to be everything opposite of God in character. Satan will, at the last, bow to his knee and acknowledge that God is right and that he is wrong. Satan will acknowledge that God was just and fair toward him, and that it was his own rebellion that turned him away from God. He acknowledges that he would be miserable if he had to continue in the presence of God, He asks God to―and gives God permission to―end his existence. Satan, his angels, and all those who chose to follow the arch-rebel, will declare God to be merciful and just to end their existence for ever and ever. God sadly acknowledges their request, and with their permission, brings down the fires of hell to accomplish their eternal separation.

For true and righteous are his judgments (Rev 19:1,2)
The wise hear in this affirmation clues as to what the Great Controversy was all about. Satan had tried to convince the universe that God was unfair, severe, and arbitrary. The Controversy ends when God’s creation is convinced that He is worth love and deserving of trust. God has been on trial. He has defended Himself. He has settled the questions and doubts Satan has raised. Satan has tried to subvert the government of God while God has patiently been telling His side of the story.

In this sense, the Bible is God’s self-communication about His side of the controversy. The Bible is the theater wherein we observe its play and counter play.

Basic to this plan was Jesus who would come to this earth to demonstrate what God is really like. He would come to represent God. He would tell the truth about God. This is why Jesus spent so much time telling us what God is like. He knew that our salvation would depend on our having a true picture of God. Why is this so crucial? Because knowing God is the strongest motivation for us to
            a. turn from sin
            b. reject the rebel who started sin
            c. trust God above every earthly consideration or attraction
Seeing God in Jesus provides a powerful incentive to love God in return.

Jesus came to show us that God is not angry at us
Jesus came to show us that God is not mean
Jesus came to show us that God wants to us come back to Him because He loves us
Jesus came to show us that God wants to restore us to eternal life
Jesus came to show us that God freely offers forgiveness to everyone
Jesus came to show us that Satan is a liar and a deceiver
Jesus came to show us that sin is the result of Satan’s rebellion
Jesus came to show us that our choice determines our destiny
Jesus came to chow us that choosing Satan means we choose Satan's fate
Jesus came to show us that in choosing God we choose life

And Jesus did this at an awful cost to Himself―He gave His life. But the question remains: How did all this solve the Great Controversy? Is God asking too much of us? Can we truly love Him for love’s sake, or do we serve Him because of what we get out of it? Do we serve Him to avoid the disastrous results of not serving Him?

Now we are at the Book of Job!

Next week--God On Trial (Part 2 of 2).


Please send questions or comments to Will Hardin at P O Box 24 Owenton KY 40359.

Gavel Image in the Introduction is by ARUN S from Pixabay


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